Quantcast


The Case for Castillo

Posted by Corey Seidman, Fri, March 18, 2011 11:27 AM | Comments: 26
Posts

Luis Castillo was released this morning, following a drama-filled Spring Training with the Mets. GM Sandy Alderson referred to the move as a “baseball decision,” but it had just as much to do with off-the-field issues. This is not a knock on Castillo the person, but rather what he represented to the Mets. Castillo was a metaphor for everything the Mets are trying to get away from: overpaid, underachieving, old, unproductive, ill-received by fans, a constant topic of discussion. Enough was enough and they cut ties.

I wrote a piece for Brotherly Glove this morning actually, wherein I examine the difference between “talent” and “value” for the Phillies’ potential buy-low candidates. The difference in talent and value is that, at $6.25MM, Castillo does not represent enough talent to add value to a team like the Phillies. But at the major league minimum of $400,000, he does.

The Phils will likely open the season with a combo of Wilson Valdez and Josh Barfield at second base. Everyone within the organization applauds Valdez’ efforts from last season, when he started 88 more games than the blueprint suggested. But his offensive skills are, rightly so, being called into question. On 97.5 FM Wednesday, Jayson Stark said that he had heard from several scouts that Valdez is simply “not going to be a 6-7 day a week player.”

This necessary realization that Valdez doesn’t have enough boom in his stick is precisely what has allowed the Barfield train to keep running toward the light at the end of the tunnel. Barfield is a more offensive-minded second baseman than either Valdez or Castillo, but Barfield has only 53 plate appearances since 2007.

The Phillies do not have “safe” options here. We all love Valdez, but it’s imperative to note that his career OPS is 36% worse than league-average. He is coming off his best year, far and away, but his 2011 was by no means an adequate offensive season. When a player outperforms our expectations, we tend to let our emotions delude our judgment of the player.

Valdez hit into 20 double plays last season – one fewer than his amount of walks and three fewer than his extra-base hit total.

His true value comes defensively, but Phillies scouts have recognized this offseason that second base is Valdez’ least comfortable defensive position.

As bad as Luis Castillo was in 2010 – and boy, was he bad – he was not significantly worse than Valdez. It was by far the worst season of Castillo’s career, but he still got on-base 4% more than Valdez.

Castillo was out-slugged and out-hit slightly, but he hit into only 6 of those soul-crushing double plays in 71 chances, or 8% of his GIDP opportunities. Valdez hit into a double play in 13% of such opportunities. And, this is a repeatable trait. Valdez may not control when baserunners are on for him, but he can control the amount of routine grounders he hits. For his career, over 60% of Valdez’ balls in play have been ground balls.

Looking at BABIP, Castillo hit .259 on balls in play in 2010, well below his incredibly high career .329 mark. This is a clear sign that Castillo should perform better in 2011. BABIP does not always regress to the .300 mean, but it is safe to assume that it will in Castillo’s drastic case.

Castillo is not as mobile as Valdez defensively, but he is much more experienced, having played the position for almost 15,000 major league innings. Valdez has played 406 innings at second in his career.

If the Phils’ only option at second was Valdez, I would advise them to go out immediately to sign Castillo, based on his experience, high volume of contact with little GIDP risk, and the general “safeness” he would bring to the situation. But the Phils will also probably carry Barfield on the major league roster in case they need more offensive production from the position.

In looking at the composition of the 25-man roster, the Phils could certainly fit in all three players. Guaranteed, there will be:

  • 8 starting position players
  • 5 starting pitchers
  • 6 relievers (Lidge, Madson, Romero, Contreras, Baez, Kendrick)
  • 4 bench guys (Schneider, Gload, Mayberry, probably Barfield)

That leaves two open spots. With so many off days in April and such a deep rotation, the Phillies do not need a 7th reliever. Even if Lidge is hurt, the starters should still be able to go long enough to make it a non-factor, and if Blanton is skipped on an off day or two, the bullpen has a de facto 7th man.

So, that leaves two bench spots. Castillo could occupy one, Delwyn Young or Michael Martinez could occupy the other. That bench would give the Phillies depth and versatility in the infield and outfield, a pinch-running threat in Martinez, and three switch-hitting pinch-hit options.

At $6.25MM, Castillo should be booed if he struggles. But at $400,000, the reward of Castillo being an upgrade far outweighs the risk of him being slightly worse than Valdez.

Avatar of Corey Seidman

About Corey Seidman

Corey Seidman has written 210 articles on Phillies Nation.

Corey is Analysis Editor for Phillies Nation and also writes for CSNPhilly.com.

 
 
  • Posts: 222 tavian

    Avatar of tavian

    Corey, your stance on Castillo makes sense. He only plays one position, while other bench players can fill in at several positions. Castillo does have a lot of successful experience at the plate, despite having no power. He would be a short-term replacement until Utley returns, but I do see the merit of your suggestions for him to become a Phillie, especially if Amaro cannot get a decentt young outfielder like Jon Jay.

     
  • Posts: 220 The Dipsy

    Avatar of The Dipsy

    Sign him. Done.

    Castillo
    Polanco
    Rollins
    Howard
    Ibanez/Shane
    Francisco
    Ibanez/Shane
    Chooch

    The Dipsy

     
    • Posts: 427 Publius

      Avatar of Publius

      Yes let’s put someone who is rapidly aging and posted a paltry .337 OBP in the leadoff spot, while Chooch is wasted in the 8 spot. Ew.

       
  • Posts: 312 Corey Seidman

    Avatar of Corey Seidman

    Leading off?! I’d imagine him batting eighth, MAYBE second but even that’s a stretch. Why would you lead him off, just to balance out the rest of the lineup?

     
  • Posts: 427 Publius

    Avatar of Publius

    Nooooooo thank you. Castillo is old, has bad knees and, with his -0.1 WAR last year, WORSE than your average replacement player. I’d rather play Wilson Valdez, and that’s saying a lot

     
  • Posts: 312 Corey Seidman

    Avatar of Corey Seidman

    Publius – you’re using Baseball-Reference WAR, so that paints an incomplete picture. If you look at Fangraphs WAR, which more of the saber community uses, Valdez was 0.9 and Castillo 0.6. And that is with Castillo playing 25 fewer games and being in a terrible situation.

     
  • Posts: 17 Phylan

    Fangraphs WAR also uses single-season UZR however, which can be unreliable. I guess Valdez’s in particular wasn’t out of whack with his career numbers though.

     
  • Posts: 427 Publius

    Avatar of Publius

    I’m not really sold on Fangraph’s WAR, which isn’t as universally-accepted as you make it sound. UZR/150 has some problems, (of course, so does dWAR, I’ll grant that).

    Anyways the main crux is that Valdez, while being nothing special, doesn’t have knee issues and is younger than Castillo. Castillo also really isn’t due for any kind of rebound with his terrible LD% and crazy-high GB%. An aging player with bad knees relying significantly on ground balls to get on base? No thanks.

     
    • Posts: 0 Don M

      Did all you Mathletes celebrate national Pi day on Monday, 3.14 ???

      “quci, Whats the square root of this apartment??” – Dave Chappelle

       
      • Posts: 3113 Tracey

        Avatar of Tracey

        Yes, I did celebrate Pi day. I celebrated it by eating 120 degrees of pizza.

         
  • Posts: 5226 Lefty

    Avatar of Lefty

    Corey are you advocating optioning / out-righting Valdez? You don’t mention him on the roster at the end. It’s true he has not proven he can be an everyday player, but I like him as a bench player/ late inning defensive replacement/ give the old guys a rest now and then type of guy.

    Castillo? eh- I guess it wouldn’t hurt to give him a shot at the minimum. But I do like what Barfield, Martinez and Young have done so far this spring.

     
  • Posts: 312 Corey Seidman

    Avatar of Corey Seidman

    Valdez also hits 60% groundballs. Last year, everything worked out for Wilson and everything went wrong for Castillo, and Valdez was STILL only slightly better.

     
  • Posts: 1435 Pat Gallen

    Avatar of Pat Gallen

    I’m not a huge fan of Castillo to begin with and it seems as though his numbers are on the same plane as Valdez. And perhaps the Phillies feel they can catch lightning in a bottle with Barfield, which would give them at least a bit of youth on the roster. Not sure how Castillo fits in any better than Valdez, etc. Is is just because he’s a name?

     
  • Posts: 220 The Dipsy

    Avatar of The Dipsy

    It balances the lineup out. He’s still quick. He can but. I like to think that getting him out of that hellhole that is Met Baseball could rejuvenate his career for at least a couple of months. I can see where people don’t want him batting first but that frees guys up to hit in better spots.

    The Dipsy

     
  • Posts: 0 greeninil

    Do it. Nothing like having another player who would take great joy in pouning the MUTS!

     
  • Posts: 312 Corey Seidman

    Avatar of Corey Seidman

    Lefty – No, the reason I did not mention Valdez as one of the bench guys is that he would be the starting second baseman.

     
  • Posts: 993 betasigmadeltashag

    Avatar of betasigmadeltashag

    I think that the Phillies should and will take shots on Valdez, Young, Barfield until they know how long Utley will be out of the line up. If they feel he will be back by June, they will hope one or two of these guys can step up and have a good 6-8 week stretch. I am on record of saying you do not need the head case which is Castillo in any case.

     
    • Posts: 93 Ted Bell

      Avatar of Ted Bell

      I’ve never heard of Castillo being referred to as a “head case”. He’s just a guy that can’t play anymore.

      Even for the $400,000 minimum, I wouldn’t view a signing like this as worthwhile.

      I’m Ted Bell.

       
  • Posts: 993 betasigmadeltashag

    Avatar of betasigmadeltashag

    Also I think Bastardo makes the trip up north in the pen and would not be surprised if JC is the LOOGY, and Bastardo the guy you bring in when you have L-R-L or something like that to pitch an entire inning. Bastardo is going to be the surprise of the pen this year mark my words

     
  • Posts: 2069 Brooks

    Avatar of Brooks

    In 2002 Castillo had a 35 game hitting streak while with the Fish. One reporter asked him about the streak, mentioning Dimaggio and his response was “Who is Joe Dimaggio?”

    Enough said. How could anyone, from any country play this game and NOT know the name of perhaps the greatest centerfielder that lived, (Yankee or not) who set the all time standard for consectutive games with at least 1 hits – 56! And during that streak hit an amazing .409, a slugging percentage of .722 with 56 runs scored and 55 rbi –

    It’s sacrilegious

     
    • Posts: 5226 Lefty

      Avatar of Lefty

      Yeah, that’s not too encouraging. Plus if that was 2002, and it’s root cause was early onset of Alzheimers, one can only imagine the progression of dane bramage that’s occurred since.

       
    • Posts: 93 Ted Bell

      Avatar of Ted Bell

      There are stories about Rickey Henderson not knowing the names of players on his own team, so I guess Castillo can get a pass for not knowing about a guy that retired almost 60 years ago.

      I’m Ted Bell.

       
  • Posts: 64 RatBastardNJ

    Avatar of RatBastardNJ

    I just don’t want this guy on our team…regardless if it is a good business decision. Over the years, I have actually enjoyed the Phillies playing the Mets because they epitomized the notions of no guts and lack of team atmosphere with much tension. Castillo seemed to always be in the middle of this and I have read numerous reports that he was awful in the clubhouse and did not get along with management. I think one of the reasons the Phillies have been so successful is their team chemistry (skills didn’t hurt either)…this guy could come in and damage all that. If Valdez is not the solution, and I can understand why, I would have preferred the team look into Eckstein, Aybar or Crede.

    Hopefully I will be proven wrong and Castillo becomes revitalized and has a good year…but I doubt it.

     
    • Posts: 427 Publius

      Avatar of Publius

      Yeah I too dislike savvy business moves for touchy-feely reasons. Castillo is much cheaper, younger and better than Eckstein would be. Aybar is an unknown quantity and Joe Crede hasn’t played baseball competitively since the W. Bush administration. The whole notion of “clubhouse cancer” is completely overblown (and also racist…has a white person ever been called a “cancer”? I don’t think so. Note: not calling you racist, just seems odd how that term is applied)/

       
      • Posts: 64 RatBastardNJ

        Avatar of RatBastardNJ

        I didn’t use the word cancer at all in my post. I also don’t like the term as I do not believe that a such a horrendous medical condition could be related to poor behavior. I do though think that team chemistry is important in all team sports and the Phillies success has been dependent on it. I think Castillo’s reported negativism, lack of hustle, and previous problems with management should cause red flags (red flags do not equal cancer).

         
 
Leave a Comment

>> Create a new Phillies Nation account.
>> Already registered with Phillies Nation? Log in here.
>> Comment without logging in:






Please ensure your comments comply with our Comment Policy.